Mumbai: A private Gujarati-minority school in Kandivali has moved the Bombay High Court (HC) against a recent government directive to shut down the institute and shift its students to other schools.
The officials have sought the closure of Kapol Vidyanidhi International School, an ICSE board institute, as it didn't obtain recognition under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. However, the school and its managing trust, in their plea, have claimed that they are not liable for the recognition as they are a linguistic minority institution.
Allegations on the school
For the past two years, the school has been facing scrutiny over its lack of recognition as well as allegations about charging excess fees, barring students from classrooms over non-payment of fees and forcing students to purchase textbooks from school. In January, Navnath Vanave, Education Inspector (EI, Mumbai West Zone) had directed the schoolto close down. But as the school continued to function, the EI in June issued a letter to Dharmendra Naik, Deputy EI, asking him to move the students to other nearby schools.
The RTE Act requires all privately-run schools to obtain a certificate of recognition by fulfilling various norms pertaining to teachers, school building, teaching hours, library and equipment. The state's 2011 rules for implementing the act require schools to submit a self declaration-cum-application (commonly known as 'Form 1') to the District Education Officer. The certificate of recognition (known as 'Form 2') is awarded to a school following an on-site inspection. For the schools running without recognition, the law provides for imposing a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh as well as a recurring penalty of Rs 10,000 per day if schools continue to run without recognition. The schools must renew their recognition after every three years.
In its petition, the school claimed that it has obtained the necessary No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the Education Officer of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the government of Maharashtra as well as permanent affiliation from the Council of Indian Secondary School Certificate Examinations (CISCE). However, the school claims that it need not acquire the certificate of recognition as it believes to be exempted from provisions of the RTE Act and rules as a minority institute.
The plea also claims that the education authorities decided to initiate action against the school without first granting it a hearing. The petitioners requested the court quash the notices sent by authorities and stop coercive action against the school.
Vipul Shah, the father of a student at the school, and one of the complainants against the institute, contested the school's contention about the RTE Act. "The act is applicable to all the schools, including minority unaided institutes. They are only exempt from the Act's provision about admitting socio-economically disadvantaged group students to 25% of the seats," he said.